by Susan Starr and Kevin Kocur
“How to Stuff a Wild Bikini” is the last, and worst, of the beach movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as young lovers Frankie and Dee Dee. Frankie is in the Naval reserves, stationed on tropical GoonaGoonaIsland where all the natives are walking stereotypes who speak pidgin English and practice voodoo. Frankie, the poster boy for the double standard, is fooling around with a local girl (Irene Tsu), when he gets the idea that Dee Dee might also be getting some on the side. He enlists the aid of a local witch doctor, (Buster Keaton, looking like he’s spent too much time inside of a bottle) to spy on Dee Dee.
The rest of the movie is standard beach party stuff. Lots of voluptuous women whose only talent is filling out a bikini, and goofy guys with names like Bonehead, performing boring musical numbers on the beach, although the surf music is pretty cool. The surf music may be the only good thing in the movie: Mickey Rooney plays an advertising exec hanging out on the beach, recruiting people for a motorcycle race. Dee Dee is tempted by Rooney’s colleague Rick (Dwayne Hickman). Rick is supposedly working on improving the image of bikers, but this movie won’t do much for that cause. And the cheating biker gang uses tactics like stringing trip wire and spilling oil on the road.
While watching this movie I thought it was odd how little you see Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, the stars of the movie. Avalon is only on screen for a few minutes and only appears with Annette Funicello at the end. Funicello never wears a bathing suit and is in baggy clothes for most of the movie. According to the Internet Movie Database, she was pregnant when the movie was shot. You know how much the producers cared about the quality of their beach movie when they have a star that is too pregnant to wear a bathing suit.
Hey cats n’ kittens! Big Surf Daddy K here to tell you about a way out flick, Daddy-o! OK, not really. While “How To…” isn’t that bad of a film, it isn’t that great either. A typical 60’s beach romp with all the typical lingo, music and clothes of a, well, typical 60’s beach romp.
At least the movie featured plenty of bikes. The bumbling biker gang, The Rat Pack, all ride black Triumphs. But most of the bikes featured are sub-350cc two strokes. “It’s not a big motorcycle just a groovy little motorbike” seems to be the theme here. And, of course, the grand finale is the Big Race. In fact, the movie’s trailer boasts the race scene as “The wildest motorcycle Grand Prix you’ve ever seen!” Wild? Hardly. Silly? Definitely. Grand Prix? Definitely not! More like a bunch of wee two stroke Scramblers buzzing around on a three square block enduro course. Did I mention that everyone is riding two up?
And when the green flag drops, hilarity ensues. Whether it’s the ne’er do well bikers attempting to cheat so their leader, Eric Von Zipper, can win the race and become the new poster child for 1960’s motorcycling (sorry Eric, I still don’t think you’d stand much of a chance against the Norton girls) or all of the wacky hijinks perpetrated by the other riders. I think the movie producers stole every single sight gag from a Warner Brothers cartoon–a dozen motorcycles careening out of control on freshly spilled oil equals comedy gold.
Wackiness aside, we were treated to a couple great cameos. The Kingsmen were featured playing a local club, and Elizabeth Montgomery makes a very brief appearance as, well, a witch. While there are certainly worse movies out there featuring motorcycles, if I wanted to mix the beach scene with motorcycles I would just put on my Hawaiian shirt, mix up a Mai Tai and pop Faster into the DVD player. Ahhhhh, now that’s more like it.